THE Myszkowski transposition cipher, described last week, is somewhat impractical in use because of the extreme care which must be exercised to prevent error in the various manipulations.
Fortunately, however, the very same order of transposition can be easily effected, and with little chance of error, by another method about to be described. To facilitate comparison of the two methods, the same message (a) and key word (b) employed with the Myszkowski cipher will again be used.
By this improved method it is unnecessary to repeat the key word, the numerical key (c) being derived from it as before, however, by numbering the letters in alphabetical order, and taking repeated letters, if any, from left to right.
The message is then transcribed in lines of the same number of letters as the key word, forming that number of columns, each of which will be headed by one of the key numbers, as illustrated at (d). Encipherment is completed by taking these columns downward and in the order indicated by the numerical key, and grouping by fives (e).
(a) SEND REINFORCEMENTS (b) R E D A N (c) 5 3 2 1 4 (d) S E N D R E I N F O R C E M E N T S (e) DFMNN ESEIC TROES ERN (f) R E D A N 5 3 2 1 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x x
To decipher a cryptogram in this system, having the key, first count the letters in the communication, and prepare a diagram showing the exact lengths of the columns for the particular key used. Here, for example, there are eighteen letters in the message, and five in the key. Consequentl y, the first three columns must contain four letters each, and the last two columns, three each. The empty spaces in the last line should be filled with x's, as shown at (f), to minimize chances of error.
The cryptogram (e) can now be written into this diagram by descending verticals in the same order in which it was taken out, as indicated by the numerical key, restoring the letters to their original message order (d).
In trying to decipher a cryptogram in this system without the key. the procedure would ordinarily be, first, to determine the length of the key word or number of columns in the diagram, and, second, to find the order of transposition in these columns. Suggestions along these lines will be given in subsequent installments of the department, as space permits, beginning next week. In the meantime see what you can do with the subjoined cipher No. 73, which is of the type under discussion.
Cipher No. 64, published in the September 3 issue, conveyed the following quotation from Poe's Marginalia:
"It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream."
Like the original athbash canon of the Kabbalah, this cipher employed an alphabet of consonants only. The vowels A, E, I, O, U, and Y, were omitted, and the first ten of the remaining twenty consonants were used as substitutes, respectively, for the last ten in reverse order, and vice versa, B being used for Z, and Z for B; C for X, and X for C; and so on, as follows:
M L K J H G F D C B N P Q R S T V W X Z
In enciphering the message (a) the vowels were first omitted (b) and the consonants substituted (c) according to the above alphabet. These consonants were then written in reverse order, from right to left, and without spaces between words, as shown at (d).
(a) It is by no means ... (b) T S B N M NS ... (c) G H Z M N MH ... (d) ... H M N M Z H G
The main difficulty here lies in supplying the missing vowels, by different selections of which it is obvious that a number of interpretations might be possible in many cases.
How do you like the " Q. and A." cryptograms? The solution to No. 68, published last week, is as follows:
Question: How can any cat have nine lives?
Answer: No cat has eight lives; any cat has one life more than no cat; therefore, any cat has nine lives!
Solutions to Nos. 69 and 70 will be published in two weeks.
Taking up this week's puzzlers, besides transposition cipher No. 73, already mentioned, we are offering in No. 71 a new kind of cipher puzzle which we have christened "jumbled crypts."
The problem consists of two or more messages of the same number of words— two messages of thirteen words each in this case—enciphered with different simple substitution alphabets, some of the cipher words occupying similar numerical places in their messages being then interchanged between the cryptograms. The messages are in ordinary, everyday English. Can you "unshuffle" these jumbled crypts?
Last, but by no means least, we have No. 72, which is not hard, but may keep you guessing a few minutes.
CIPHER No. 71.
(a) TXN LHWW RXU YIV TE BKY QVIHUM YIV TVXQH CXAYARHY BKY IXOY WHQARAT. (b) BKY FYQHVXQY KHUM UBDVYF DHZZHUJ UVPFWRPV MJWV JF WRAJV RYXWJFM HU YIV WJFM.
CIPHER No. 72 (John H. Rosa, Bronx, New York).
OOKLA UTOAO RFAHE TAIRL GAITH WAHET AEARL SPAHE SANOW SKAUR OAAME GA
CIPHER No. 73.
TVYIE TRROR EHNIA EUDSR IEONI ORENA EEORP TEALO LTSUH LHQNO UCADD CSAAE TDVFU GNNYC YI
The solutions to this week's ciphers Nos. 71 and 72, also No. 67 of September 10, will be published next week.
No. 73 will be used in the next two or three articles in demonstrating the methods of solving this kind of transposition cipher. But the full translation will be withheld until the explanations have been quite completed.
Keep your answers pouring in, fans. And don't forget to include answers and explanations with ciphers submitted for publication.